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Dance Studio for Beit Redevelopment?

Feb 12 2007 19:47
Ashley Brown
Members of the Union's dance societies are petitioning for a dance studio, rather than a cafe, as part of phase 2 of the Beit redevelopment plan.
The future for Beit?

The original plans for the redevelopment of the Beit building called for a cafe in the area where the sabbatical offices currently lie, however a number of Union clubs are looking to change that.

RCC Chair Mark Flower is to bring a paper to the next meeting of Council calling for the cafe to be replaced with a proper dance studio, with a sprung floor and mirrored walls. A number of clubs currently use the Mechanical Engineering foyer and JCR, but this limits their activities to the late evenings. The aim of the paper is to create a general purpose space which can cater to the needs of the dance clubs, whilst ditching a cafe of questionable need.

Cafe Proposal

The original plan, with a cafe and external seating area opposite the Royal Albert Hall

The cafe was originally proposed last year, with the suggestion that it be opened to the public to increase revenues. The profit from the new cafe was expected to be huge - much higher than current take from all the bars combined. However, sources in the Union at the time described figures from the business plan as "made up" and others have since expressed concerns over its viability or necessity. Adding yet another trading outlet when there are enough problems with the current ones is also seen as a bad move.

Creating Extra Space

Extra space will be created by the addition of a mezzanine level to the current gym, which will move to the top floor of the building. The mezzanine will hold a new student activities centre, with displaced meeting rooms from the top floor moved to the east wing basement.

These moves create space under the mezzanine, where it was originally proposed to put a games room, moving snooker tables down from the top floor and sabbatical offices up. The new plan would leave the snooker tables where they are, with offices moving under the mezzanine level holding SAC.

Mark Flower and the dance clubs are looking for 500 people to support the paper, to encourage Council to approve it. If you would like to show your support, you can contact Mark at . Equally, anyone with objections should make them known too.

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Discussion about “Dance Studio for Beit Redevelopment?”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Feb 13 2007 15:07
 

Building another cafe in beit is another example of the fairy-world sabbs have been living in recently. Why go to all the hassle of building a new cafe on the first floor when you've got a c**p one on the ground floor (davinci's) which you can make better?

davinci's could be made a lot better for not much money (e.g.start serving decent food, and above all cover up that disgusting plastic floor), and it would be better to concentrate our attention on this rather than splitting it by trying to start a whole new cafe.

as for it generating loads of money, this sounds like dreamworld bulls**t to me - why would any customers from the royal albert hall (can't see anyone else passing through) choose to have a snack over the road in a student-run cafe filled with (yep!) students, when they can go to one of the many, probably much classier, outlets in the albert hall itself?

2. Ken   
Feb 13 2007 16:16
 

I think a dance studio would be much more useful. A dance studio would be an excellent rehearsal space for all the societies that currently struggle to find appropriate rooms!

And I agree that there is no need for another cafe when DaVinci's could be made so much better. I don't think a cafe is ever going to make real money, but there is certainly scope to improve DaVinci's.

Feb 13 2007 16:28
 

sonica - "Building another cafe in beit is another example of the fairy-world sabbs have been living in recently."

Possibly a strange comment seeing as the plans were drawn up before any of the current Sabbs were elected and the proposed change was talked through with two of the current Sabbs, both of whom are fully supportive of it and have assisted in it going forward, and the new proposal has the support of other Sabbs as well. Have you spoken to any of the Sabbs about this, I think you may find that they are less than enamoured with the idea of another cafe in Beit.

Feb 13 2007 16:52
 

I agree it woudl be great to turn that area into club-space, but I don't see why it would be best to make it into another gym.

Why don't they [dance company] simply use the, very shiny, dance studio in the sports centre? given that they have over £3k in sgi and are >£1K up on last year, it doesn't seem as though they'd have a problem...

A similar situation would appear to exist for ACC dance club as well.

Feb 13 2007 17:44
 

may be the fact that the studio is fully booked all the time and more importantly no heals inside ethos!!

also it was the masterplan which said the union wanted a cafe and a survey went out to all students asking for their feedback.

6. Lara   
Feb 13 2007 18:01
 

I presume you were at the RCC meeting last night "confused". Still complaining about how we have a good SGI are we, move on please, when you run a club well that is what happens. We wouldn't be the only club to have good SGI, there are lots of us you know.

Your comment would seem to suggest that we as "dance company" are the only ones behind the plan and it is all about us, us, us. Wrong, it was proposed by Mark Flower but yes we do support it, funny that hey. :-)

The very shiny dance studio in Ethos is not cheap to hire, it is used Mon, Tues, Weds and Thurs evenings by Ethos and during the day Saturday and Sunday so would make arranging classes very difficult and expensive. Try fitting all the classes for us, bellydancing, yoga, aerobics, funkology, Dance Sport, the numerous martial arts etc... around the Ethos timetable, not very practical.

A common topic of conversation, and gripe, is around the lack of space in the Union and college for certain clubs. We should all be supporting the opportunity to offer good facilities at low cost to our students and club members. One of the reasons we run so many clubs and socs is to make activities accessible to all and there are many people who support this paper as they can see a genuine need for the studio over a cafe.

Can't wait to meet you again in the near future, some of our SGI will be spent by then as well you'll be pleased to hear. You must have missed the point when we said that by the end of this year it will be more like £1000-£1500 so you might want to try again with your figures.

7. Ant   
Feb 13 2007 18:52
 

Lara, I think the fatal error with this idea is that at some point in its most recent incarnation is that someone has labelled it as a 'dance studio'.

Maybe if the proposal was put forward as a multi purpose space as many of people mooted last year it would seem less antagonistic to others, and save the 'dance' orientated societies from being singled out.

With regard to your SGI some may argue that 'confused' has a point, yes other clubs do have increasing SGIs as well (some with good capital expenditure reasons behind it but where the budgeting system offers them no other way to declare it other than as SGI and others without). Running a club well in itself does not justify holding a large SGI, that money should then be reinvested to benefit the members who have provided it be this through reduced membership fees, new equipment etc.

Feb 13 2007 21:07
 

Informative juan: Ok I take back the word 'recently' from my original post if it is true, as you say, that the current sabbs ha nowt to do with it. However my general point that this is the kind of disconnected-with-reality idea that 'student politicians' love to entertain remains, even if today's sabbs are a little more down to earth than last year's.

Also, I agree with Ant about the dance thing - seems a bit over the top to build a whole new room for the benefit of a single society, making it more general seems like the way to go.

9. Lara   
Feb 13 2007 22:52
 

Sonica/Ant: Not once anywhere in the paper, or in this article does it mention it is for the beneft of a single club. :-)

I think what you will find, if you had read my post, the article and the paper, is that it will be beneficial to a large range of clubs.

Ant - a large proportion of our SGI this year is funding our performances, our annual schools teaching week, competitions and new equipment. In fact it will come to over £1500-£2000 of reinvestment this year alone. Enough said. :-)

Feb 13 2007 22:59
 

This is not talking about a single society. We are talking about three dedicated 'dance' societies, any number of martial arts societies, Musical Theatre Society, Cultural Societies rehearsing for productions such as East Meets West. I could go on and on. This room will be of huge benefit to many hundreds of students. And yes it should be a dance studio. This is beacuse dance societies have very specific requiremnets to be able to further their core aims and objectives (eg. mirrored walls, sprung floors, ballet bars...) but this does not specifically mean that other societies can't use it. We had a 'dance studio' at my school which was used for 'Keep Fit', using rowing machines and any number of other activities. I am strongly in favour of changing the plans to include a dance studio.

I have never been involved in any of the societies I mentioned above. I am sure that I will probably use the room less (personally) as a dance studio than as a cafe but I can recognise that the use of the room will benefit a greater number of people and to a higher level if the plans are changed.

Feb 13 2007 23:03
 

The key thing is to make sure it is specified to be used as a general purpose room ("no you can't put chairs on our nice floor" isn't great...). Would the whole space need to be switched to sprung floor/mirrored walls?

12. Ant   
Feb 14 2007 00:28
 

Lara - Thats is fair enough, however the post to which my comments reacted did not convey that and my post was a generalised observation anyway.

With regard to your 'single club' comment, if you read my post fully you will notice that at no point have I referred to it benefiting one single club, and to refer to the paper itself in this discussion is possibly unfair because those details do not seem to be availiable to the general public, either linked through the article or on the union website. My comments are fully based on the article and my previous knowledge of the situation.

Kirsty, what I was trying to convey is the point that Ashley has agreed with me on. That is that any space should be specified as general purpose, this does not prohibit specialist considerations of what should be installed within a room but removes any possibly danger of, either now or in the future, the misconception that a space belongs to a certain group (be that one or several societies).

It should also be remembered that do the plans not already include provision of a gym? But yet no provision for a specific acousticly set room for use by performing, singing or musical groups? It is not possibly to satisfy every groups needs and therefore my feeling all along has been that what is lacking within the building plans is a selection of decent sized open spaces suitable for large group use be that dance, fitness, music, cultural show rehersals etc.

What I would say finally is that never saw the cafe idea as in the best interest of students, however I believe Council would do better to consider this in two stages

a) Should the plan be continued in its original format and a cafe be built?

and if the answer to this is no then proceed with

b) Under take proper work involving all CSCs and other relevant parts of the union to examine and evaluate a range of options for alternative uses of the space including feasability due to sturctural requirements.

My fear with the paper as it is described in the article is that it may not be fully considered properly, some may get carried away with the removal of the cafe that they do not fully consider what they would actually replace it with and accept the first suggested offer as the only possibility.

Feb 14 2007 01:14
 

From the paper:

"Such large space may also be of great use the arts clubs, providing a second venue (when the concert hall is filled) to be used by them. The provision of thick curtains in front of any mirrored walls would be of benefit here to hold down the sound that would otherwise be reflected by the mirrors. Curtains would also be required to protect mirrors during events, although these may not prove to be adequate, requiring further protective measures."

Feb 14 2007 08:48
 

Lara: no, I wasn't at the RCC meeting since I'm not a member of the RCC.

My main point was the one Ant has picked up on and argued very eloquently - what are the options for a club space in that area? two alternative uses spring to mind immediately - Islamic friday prayer space and (not strictly a club...) a PG common room!

iirc, outside of teaching hours there are several spaces already available to dance-type clubs: union gym, UDH, MDH, JCR, Ante-room, Mech-eng foyer, (SAF foyer?), Ethos studio, and occasionally the great hall and union concert hall. that's just at SK. I know that Mary's sports hall is not always booked.

I realise that some of these rooms may not be ideal, or indeed available all the time, but there is a lot of space around already of the large, flexible type. it's (simply) a matter of finding out when its available.

Naturally, more (dedicated) space would allow the dance clubs to grow, and would be of benefit to some other societies, but as Ant has suggested, a proper investigation, with true cost/benefit analyses should be undertaken before a decision is made.

15. Mark   
Feb 14 2007 10:04
 

Hey folks

I was trying to resist posting here, but what the heck.

Please remember that this space is not just for our 500 dance clubs members, but will also be used for (and these are clubs that have contacted me), martial arts (although clearly not the matted ones), fencing - who are not best placed in Ethos at the moment, Yoga, EMW, ITS, Juggling (etc).

The concept also allows for the space to be cleared and used as an extra venue on the nights (and only on the nights) when the union sells out, such as the christmas carnival.

Snooker are also very keen on the idea of being left on the top floor of the union.

167 have seconded so far - so we're still very short of people...

P.S. If you think that proper cost benefit analysis should be done then I suggest that you start work on it. Everyone else is too busy. I'm on 100 hour weeks at the moment with budgeting for the RCC.

Feb 14 2007 10:31
 

union gym- booked up already

UDH- also very heavily-used

MDH- concrete floor and full of pillars

JCR- OK, that's one room (until College catering decide they want to open at evenings/weekends)

Ante-room- carpetted, and booked-up for music rehearsals anyway

Mech-eng foyer (SAF foyer?)- yes, students have been forced to use these spaces for dance rehearsals. Not good for health and safety, either when a dancer falls over or even lands heavily from a jump on the concrete floors, or for all the others using these throughfares

Ethos studio- booked-up and expensive

occasionally the great hall and union concert hall- OK, the clubs can just hold their activities 'occasionally' and in a different place each week, that really makes for a strong club, doesn;t it?

Feb 14 2007 10:54
 

I went to a make-shift dance studio at Westminster Uni last week, it was awesome, and the mirrors definately help with seeing what you are doing and wether it is right or not. It's a bit like the martial arts classes in the old Southside gym. Also it seems that ICU Dance has a reputation as a fairly good dance school in London, so I can understand why they want to a dance studio.

18. Lara   
Feb 14 2007 12:06
 

I would love to be able to book some of those rooms!!!

In fact we were near the front of the queue for room bookings last term, and still really struggled to get space and many of our requests could not be met. I have spent time at Union reception many times trying to find space for us, and trust me on this it has been very difficult, it has not been through lack of trying on either my, or other club officers part.

Many rehearsals have therefore had to be cancelled due to the genuine lack of space there really is. We are currently using rooms at both CX and South Ken and still we are having massive problems. "Options" makes many valid points above about why many of the rooms can't be used and I have to say the concrete floor has been making SAF foyer and Mech Eng dangerous for us in practices. Last night for ballet and jazz we were in bare feet, as the floor was so slippy, not good considering we are competing in three days time. Technically they don't like dance rehearsals in SAF either. During the week they can usually squeeze us in maybe one night, that then varies from week to week for night/location etc.... It has made things a small logistical nightmare this term!

My opinion is that of supporting a dance studio within the Union building, I am president of a dance club,and what I am doing is conveying the opinions of many of our members, both past and present. This is not a personal thing. In addition, I see the benefits it would provide to so many different clubs within our Union.

Final point.....I am a third year PG, personally (I'm sure you will all love to rip me on this one, and will no doubt!!!) we really don't need a postgrad common room. :-D

19. Ant   
Feb 14 2007 12:31
 

Ashley, Thanks for the excerpt of the paper. I think that just highlights my point about the importance of wording with regard to naming any space.

Would it be possible to have the proposed paper linked to from the article? Afterall you are asking for people to make comment on the proposal, whether it be for or against.

Feb 14 2007 12:57
 

Side-stepping the "dance space or something else" issue slightly, I'm a bit concerned that this will be an expensive change to make to the plans: not only will the architects have to re-draw the plans of the floor (which won't be free!), they'll also have to consider the impact on plumbing, cabling, electrics, other areas etc - if you're having a gym/dance space, you'll need changing rooms (I don't imagine that the changing rooms outside the new gym would cope with two lots of people), which will require plumbing, there'll have to be changes to the ventilation (a cafe has different ventilation needs to a gym) and I'm sure that there are other issues that haven't been thought of yet.

I'm not trying to scaremonger here, but is it even technically feasible, given the work already done on the central core?

so ultimately: what difference will this make to the total cost of the redevelopment? we have a current plan that will cost ~£6m (i believe); what does this add to that total?

just stuff to consider before making a decision...

Feb 14 2007 13:15
 

I'm happy to add the paper to the article if Mark agrees, but it hasn't been linked to from the RCC website yet ...

22. Seb   
Feb 14 2007 13:21
 

I think it sounds like it should be considered. Club space is at a higher premium than coffee, even if it is a money spinner (IIRC a former DPFS used to have a photocopy of an article about "The black gold" on his door).

PG common room is a bit of an odd thing. We already have several that function as such, during the day there are departmental ones and the SCR, at night there is of course the Holland Club and Queens Arms :)

Feb 14 2007 13:25
 

I've uploaded a copy of the paper, see the download box at the end of the article.

Feb 14 2007 13:55
 

Confused makes some valid points and from a (previous) insider's viewpoint as well. However, I am fully supportive of this move and indeed have been involved right from the very start when Mark came to see me with the idea (although I seem to have been missed off the seconders list). I believe that it is possible to integrate into the plans without too much impact but it does need costing, something which, obviously, has yet to be done.

Calling it a Dance Studio (something of which I myself am as guilty as the next person) is misleading. It would be equipped to act as such but would also be able to do so much more and would essentially be flexible club space. Atul makes a very valid point about the usefulness of mirrors to other groups as well; I used to train for martial arts in front of a mirror and it really does make a world of difference.

With regards to the plumbing, well, we currently don't have any to the Union offices (which is where we are talking about). A café would need plumbing as would a dance studio/club space with changing rooms so we would already need to introduce plumbing to the area.

25. Sam   
Feb 16 2007 01:25
 

Atul,

I've seen you play.

I'm not sure if mirrors could improve on your performance.

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